A World More Attractive: A View of Modern Literature and Politics

A World More Attractive: A View of Modern Literature and Politics

A World More Attractive: A View of Modern Literature and Politics

A World More Attractive: A View of Modern Literature and Politics

Excerpt

Composed in the years between 1950 and 1963, the essays in this book range in kind from literary criticism to political analysis, from intellectual portraiture to cultural polemic. They cover a wide spectrum of topics and figures, but if varied in subject, they are, I believe, unified in outlook. Behind almost all of them can be found a stable complex of values and convictions, a persistent concern with problems and ideas, having to do primarily with that style of experience and perception sometimes called the "modern." By the "modern" I have in mind neither the merely contemporary nor the momentarily fashionable, either in our culture or our politics. I have in mind the assumption that the twentieth century has been marked by a crisis of conduct and belief that is perhaps unprecedented in seriousness, depth and extent.

The "modern," as it refers to both history and literature, signifies extreme situations and radical solutions. It summons images of war and revolution, experiment and disaster, apocalypse and skepticism; images of rebellion, disenchantment and nothingness. To claim that all of these are visibly present in the essays that follow, would be absurd; but I would say that the sense of their presence has been a dominant pressure, setting both the terms and the limits, of what I have written here.

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